Word Vomit: (n) The words that come out of your mo uth without any thought, often when you are drunk, embarrassed, angry, or given criticism in a social environment.
I think Cady Heron from Mean Girls was the first to popularise this phrase in 2004, but it was long before then that the phenomenon was acknowledged –even by me and I was five at the time.
Other variants of the phrase include verbal diarrhoea or word soup, but word vomit is my favourite because it communicates that all too familiar feeling of nausea experienced for a while even after ‘vomit’ has passed.
I’m personally visited by the reminder of past word vomit around three to five times a day. My brain interrupts me at random intervals to remind me of the many times I have chatted so much rubbish that people have had to take shifts sitting next to me. I dread to think what subjects I’ve covered to some poor individual in someone’s kitchen, but I have a nasty feeling I once went back as far as what part I played in my Yr 2 performance of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Fear of falling into this trap though has led me to the opposite side of the spectrum; I now try to keep conversation so light that I fear I just come across as rude. Things like giving one-word answers or not continuing conversations makes me feel like I’ve dodged a vomit bullet, but I’m increasingly aware that I may come across as dismissive and more Regina George than Cady Heron. (If you don’t get these Mean Girls references, I’m sorry and you should be too).
It’s become very clear in recent years that the issue – especially for my generation – is a lack of confidence. A recent survey commissioned by Smile Direct Club has shown that we Gen Z’s are the least confident age group, spending an average of 36 minutes per day feeling self-conscious – what a fantastic waste of time.
The key is to have faith: no-one’s asking you to give a TED Talk but I’m sure you have enough about you to string a sentence together. Easier said than done, I must admit.
May you all find a happy medium – and if in doubt, shut up.